Each year I consider it a huge privilege to lead the School in its Remembrance Service where we remember all those who have died in conflict and in particular remember those alumni of the School who made the ultimate sacrifice in either the First or Second World Wars. This year, with it being the centenary of the outbreak of World War One has particular significance.
I am hugely indebted to Simon Williams of our History Department for the superb job he has done in collating an impressive gazette of all those who lost their lives in World War One and I will again draw upon this work in my address. On Remembrance Day I feel that my major task is to link those that went before with those sitting in the hall 100 years on and to demonstrate that all those who fell were living lives not too dissimilar to our own. Our own war memorial was unveiled in 1922 to show “the respect, honour and admiration which we feel for the Old Boys who laid down their lives in the Great War.”
It is estimated that over 1500 Old Nottinghamians, staff and boys, took part in the Great War. Until recently we thought that 202 of those 1500 were killed and never returned. There were 124 decorations, 29 others were mentioned in dispatches. Mr Williams’ recent work though has uncovered a further 30 men who died during the course of either the First or Second World Wars, 26 from the First World War alone. These men are wh0 I will focus my address on this year in our service and there are some remarkable stories to tell.
As a School we want to mark the First World War Centenary in a variety of ways over the coming four years. We have already held a couple of assemblies and these will continue to tell some of the remarkable stories of our alumni and their involvement in the conflict. We have also developed a book of remembrance on our website and have started to tweet the details of some of those who fell. We have completed a full chronology of old boy casualties.
Looking forward we hope to put on a series of trips to the battlefields starting with one for pupils but also looking at doing the same for parents and old boys in the future.
During the course of the First World War we believe that as each casualty was recorded the portrait or regimental badge of the particular old boy was displayed in the Player Hall and we now hope to replicate this 100 years on with the relevant portrait or badge being put on display as we reach the centenary of each man that fell in conflict. This will help our current day students to appreciate the sacrifice that earlier generations made for us.
We have also produced a photo display of all those who fell and we will put this out on a number of public occasions over the coming four years.
We are planning to hold a festival of remembrance around the 1st July 2016, the anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme where so many of our alumni lost their lives. At this point we will have completed our work on trying to find any further old boys who lost their lives so we will then add all of the missing names to our memorials.
Remembrance is incredibly important to any school community. We will continue to do all we can to remember our old boys who fell in conflict. I can only imagine the trauma for my predecessor who lead the School at this terrible time and the impact that so much bad news must have had on the School community. We owe it to all of them to do all we can to remember them.